I have many friends whose alternative alter egos are their “real” lives: professional mistresses, fetish magazine editors, make-up artists, designers.Then, there are the majority of us who have “day jobs”.
It is a fallacy that the fetish community consists primarily of the creatively weird and wonderful who spend their days moving from one unusual project to the next.
Most fetishists are professionals with jobs that demand long hours — how else do you afford the hundreds of pounds-worth of latex and toys that the lifestyle demands?
The fallacy is propagated by the romantic notion that the creative and adventurous sections of society live on air. In reality, aside from those who have massive trust funds (and there are a few of those), fetish for the majority is a form of fantasy and escapism, not a full-time occupation.
It’s a widely accepted (and sometimes bemusing) fact that you’re unlikely to know the surnames or occupations of many of your friends from the scene.
This doesn’t mean you know them any less, or are more removed from their intimate circle of friends. Once you remove the trappings of class, occupation and background, it is only the person that really matters.
Would it really make a difference if you knew that a leading fetishist had a degree in aeronautics or that another was a respected doctor? Not really — it just makes you tend to prejudge the “type” of person they must be.
When it comes down to it, the reason people don’t ask about the trappings of one’s daily life are often because they simply don’t matter. It’s refreshing that it is more about who you are, not what you are. How unlike conventional society!
But what happens when your fetish alter ego crosses into your day life? I recently recommended a friend from the scene for a temporary job in the office I work in.
One of those who has never had to conform to mundane life, he lives his world in fetish technicolour. A few days in and many hours of panic attacks later, he went home without real explanation or coherent reason, leaving me to pick up the pieces of seeming unreliability.
I am still waiting for an apology. To date I have received only admonishments from him for my audacity in being disappointed and/or upset. “It’s not important… don’t take it so seriously... yes, it’s just work”.
Yes, working in an office is boring, demanding and conformist, but... some of us do not have the luxury of living the life of our fetish alter egos all the time. It doesn’t pay for the Moet and latex, darling.
Although I wish it would. I then would not need two separate and equally extensive wardrobes.
Anyway, to my point. At what stage do you regard your friends from the scene as “real” friends, and at what point do you think you have the measure of who they are outside the 9-to-5 life we share?
At what stage is it safe to introduce them to who you are without the three hours of makeup, wardrobe and hair, without fear of repercussion, stretching the capacity of your friendship, or realising you don’t really know them after all?
I do not know the answer. I had failed even to realise until that recent experience with my friend that there were dividing lines that needed to be crossed with care.
For that reason, the outcome may have been more my fault, for expecting too much, than his.
At what stage is it safe to introduce your friends from the scene to who you are without the three hours of makeup, wardrobe and hair?